Family as a unit of nature and nurture has been compounded with numerous challenges in this digital era.
Traditional societal values that held the family together in Africa’s context are today profoundly threatened by the modern social-economic demands.
Unlike the old days, parenting has proven to be a different task in thesedays. Rapidly changing lifestyle, recurring demands and requirements of life put forward multiple challenges to parents.Obviously – different times, different conditions, different people, different ways of doing things.
While acknowledging that the development of technologies, globalization, westernization or civilization as they call it make our life easier, the same advances make the task of parenting more complicated than ever before.
The biggest challenge in parenthood is dealing with the rising outside influences of society. Factorsincluding drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, and entertainment media, are top concerns for every mother and father today.
Internet for instance is definitely one of the most celebrated emergences of the modern day, but, like any other thing, it also has its dark side. On the Internet our children now easily find the materials that we would not like them to see, such as pornography, violence, foul language and other harmful content. The effect of such materials is to say the least disastrous.
Ironically, parents are aware that the online world is dangerous place for kids if not well managed. But the problem is, in many cases our kids know more about computers and the internet than we do. We therefore become unable to train them in internet safety as we do not know how to use it ourselves.
The younger generation increasingly get exposed to every material at their disposal, so much that traditional values are not easily retained against a rushing tide of new lifestyles.No wonder that we have cases of illegal drinking at early age, drug use,and hostile music designed in a manner likely to demean the human experience plus numerous video games that virtually express rudeness as fun.
The mass media is another influence of cultural imperialism today. One of the negative roles the mass media plays is the dominance and propagation of violence particularly on television and video film industry. A lot of the foreign film content on television is mainly scenes of violence. The actors who engage in murder and other violent actors are portrayed as heroes. These junks have dangerous effects on the youths, who ignorantly mimic them as a way of life.
Peer pressure too is gripping our young ones so fast that by the time they realize, the damage is caused. They tend to imitate their peers in all manner that we might not be pleasant with. Gone were the days where locally made products were cherished. Now our young people tend to enjoy foreign products to the detriment of our own locally made products. Instead of locally blended juice, they opt for the imported ones found on the shelves of the leading retail outlets.
These emerging trends continue to influence our children’s behaviour.We need great wisdom and courage to pilot new models of engagement and professional practice as we mentor these vulnerable young people.
In the midst of all these, parents also face extreme pressure to make ends meet like never before. Unlike in the oldendays when fathers used to go out working and mothers used to reserve their time in growing up the kids and looking after the household duties, today both the parents have to work to accomplish the economic stability of the homestead.
Single parents as well have to work it extra and strike a balance between the works and parenting duties. These put parenting in a different dimension as parents are forced to hire nannies to take charge of their kids or even send them to stay in boarding schools even at a very tender age.
Seemingly this could be one of the reasons why the government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Education, imposed a ban on nursery and primary boarding schools. A move that was aimed at ensuring that parents contribute towards their children’s upbringing instead of shifting the responsibility to teachers.
As one scholar once observed, ‘the love you have for your child is so much greater than any challenge you’ll face as a parent.’It is definitely important to spare more time and converse with these young ones.This will help us learn from them, give right instructions and adjust appropriately to their social and emotional needs.
In addition, by being very close to them, we will engage them positively and encourage their participation in key family activities like praying together, eating, gathering and recreating together.
Without such interventions, there is a high likelihood of ‘things falling apart’ amongst our young ones whom we are looking up to for tomorrow.